Just a Minute: Thomas & Adamson apprenticeship special

Just a Minute: Thomas & Adamson apprenticeship special

The Thomas & Adamson apprentices (from left) Josh Watson, Scott Hamilton, Anna Hourston and Jack Graham

Construction, as with all industries, requires new talent if it is to continue to thrive. However, as we are all aware there is currently a skills gap which will need to be addressed given pressures on the industry, such as the ongoing RAAC crisis. Urgent action is needed to secure the future of the industry and upcoming construction projects.

While there are many routes into our sector, there is a growing demand for apprentices. Leading construction and property consultancy Thomas & Adamson (T&A) support apprentices in gaining a professional qualification, allowing them to study towards that whilst working, without incurring any debt.

This Scottish Apprenticeship Week, SCN caught up with four apprentices from Thomas & Adamson about how its apprenticeships have helped them grow and why they have their sights set on having a lasting impact on the industry.

1. How were you first made aware of the apprentice opportunity at Thomas & Adamson?

Josh Watson: I am currently working with T&A part-time while completing my 4th and final year of study. We were given the opportunity at Napier University to complete the 3rd year of our course on a student placement at a company-specific to our programme of study, Quantity Surveying. I first became aware of this opportunity at Thomas & Adamson through a Facebook group set up by staff at Napier, where student placement opportunities were regularly posted. I asked a few people who were involved with the industry about T&A, and I found they only had positive things to say.

Anna Hourston: The opportunity was brought to me through LinkedIn by a family friend who works within the construction industry.

Scott Hamilton: Whilst studying at university I conducted an online job search as a result of realising I wanted some first-hand industry experience, when I came across an available position at T&A. The opportunity stood out to me, and I didn’t think twice about applying.

Jack Graham: I approached T&A without there being a “vacancy” as such. I was allowed to come in and have a chat and things just progressed from there. I was allowed to join the team and I decided to accept, which I am glad I did, and I am thankful for.

2. What is appealing about working in the construction sector?

Josh Watson: The construction sector offers a dynamic and diverse work environment where no two days are the same. I get the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, including various residential and commercial building developments. This diversity offers me the opportunity to work on projects with a variety of difficulties and problems, keeping the work interesting and challenging. Additionally, the sector provides opportunities for career growth and advancement.

Anna Hourston: It’s an ever-growing industry, with opportunities constantly available and an overall a rewarding career.

Scott Hamilton: There are many things that are appealing about working in construction, including:

  • The work: a large variety of projects located across the country, each presenting their own challenges to overcome, which makes the work really rewarding.
  • The people: colleagues are very welcoming and make transitioning from education into a working environment really easy.
  • Progression: the opportunity to progress upwards through roles, as well as competitive starting salaries is something I found very appealing.

Jack Graham: The nature of projects and how varied they can be is the most appealing factor for me, from projects such as schools and office fit-outs to minor repairs to flats. Each comes with its own challenges to overcome.

3. Is it something you have/will recommend to a friend?

Josh Watson: Since completing my 3rd year student placement and then being kept on part-time for the duration of my 4th year, I have recommended taking this route to multiple friends and other students I attend Napier with. Apprenticeships in this industry provide valuable hands-on experience. Rather than just learning theory in a classroom, the apprenticeship route allows people to work directly on real-world projects, gaining practical skills that can make them stand out when graduated.

Anna Hourston: Yes, it would be something I would recommend. There are so many different opportunities and paths to take within the industry.

Scott Hamilton: I would definitely recommend working in construction to a friend.

Jack Graham: Yes, I would say that going down this route was the best thing for me in terms of my development as a QS, but for future opportunities as I feel like I have had a “head start” by obtaining employment alongside studies.

4. What is the best advice you have received so far?

Josh Watson: To make the effort to build strong relationships with all those I work with/meet at networking events as it will greatly benefit me in my current and future career in the construction industry.

Anna Hourston: Be well prepared and organised. Ask for help whenever needed.

Scott Hamilton: To ask lots of questions; it can be really daunting being the person with the least experience in the room but as I have come to learn, everyone wants to help you if you’re not sure of something, and the best way to learn is by asking questions!

Jack Graham: The best advice I have received is that you get from your career what you put into it. If you put the minimum into what you do, you can’t expect to get the maximum as a result, therefore, I have used this advice to motivate myself and ensure that every day I apply myself correctly and appropriately to achieve the best which I possibly can.

5. What do you like most about your apprenticeship?

Josh Watson: Something I like about my time here is the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and team members from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Working alongside other professionals at a similar level to myself develops a sense of shared purpose when working on complex projects, making the work both rewarding and enjoyable.

Anna Hourston: I like the variety of projects I work on, as well as the type of work I do within those projects, as it allows me to develop a wide range of skills.

Scott Hamilton: As someone who is still in education, I would say the thing I appreciate most about my apprenticeship is the ability to learn on the job. Although I have enjoyed my time at university thus far, I prefer to learn through practical application. This is especially the case due to the wealth of knowledge and experience of my T&A colleagues which I can tap into through asking lots of questions.

Jack Graham: The best thing about my apprenticeship is the pathway, which is created for young people in my position. There are always ways to progress and enhance your career and by undertaking this route, there is no limit to what can be achieved with the right attitude.

6. What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?

Josh Watson: The biggest challenges I have faced so far revolve around balancing academic studies with on-the-job training and project responsibilities. T&A has been very good at helping me with balancing this as they understand that my studies are just as important to me as my roles on projects.

Anna Hourston: Initially, I would say balancing university and work, however, T&A have been able to give me a good balance and allowed me to manage my time effectively.

Scott Hamilton: As this was my first job in the industry, I would say my biggest challenge has been overcoming the nerves of entering a new workplace. This was made easy however as my colleagues at T&A were extremely welcoming and were always there to help me whenever I was unsure of anything.

Jack Graham: A big challenge I have faced is having the confidence and belief in my abilities and knowledge. I want to prove to myself more than anybody that although I am still in the early stages of my career, I know that I have the ability to be a valuable asset to any team. This alongside a willingness to learn will stand me in good stead for the future.

7. How do you keep up with industry news and trends?

Josh Watson: Most commonly, I keep up to date by using LinkedIn. Since starting here in 2022, I have started to make connections and generate a profile where I can see trends in posts which are made/shared by my colleagues who share interests me as a QS.

Anna Hourston: Read online articles and keep up to date on LinkedIn.

Scott Hamilton: T&A are huge advocates of CPD and continually provide great opportunities for employees to attend presentations by industry experts on current ‘hot topics’ within the industry. Along with these I also try to regularly keep up with current industry trends online as well as through conversing with my colleagues.

Jack Graham: LinkedIn is the most common way that I keep up to date with what is happening in the industry, both from a personal level, such as with friends, and colleagues, but also from a general industry level as recent news and trends get published daily. It is a great platform for keeping informed.

8. What are your long-term career plans?

Josh Watson: My long-term career plans involve becoming a qualified quantity surveyor and progressing within Thomas & Adamson to take on more senior roles. I aspire to contribute to the success of the company’s projects while continuously expanding my expertise in the construction industry.

Anna Hourston: Long term, I hope to have graduated from university and have gained my APC qualification. Overall, I want to keep expanding my knowledge and continue to gain experience.

Scott Hamilton: Long-term I see myself continuing to work in the construction industry, becoming a chartered surveyor and hopefully progressing through the ranks at T&A.

Jack Graham: Long term my plan is to progress as a QS in the industry, seek to better myself every day, and always show a willingness and desire to improve no matter what stage of my career I am at. However, most importantly, I will always look to take the opportunities that get presented to me and never accept just being comfortable.

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